AN: I literally (not figuratively) I literally cannot believe how popular chapter one has been! Thank you all for your kind comments. Sorry for not replying personally but it would take forever and I'm sure you'd much rather I was working on the story! I do have a few FAQs that I can respond to without spoiling the story though.
Choosing Matt Bomer as Batman on the cover. I didn't choose an existing Batman because I wanted a new Batman for this story. I didn't choose Ben Afflek because he's a little old to be starting out in the superhero business. Matt Bomer is pretty close to Stephen Amell in age, has the right look/colouring and I haven't seen a lot of his work, so he was a blank slate that I could project my version of the character on to (plus he looks pretty good in a suit, which never hurts). If you prefer to think of Batman as anyone else, feel free.
Typos- I'm dyslexic so just telling me there are typos is like telling me there's chocolate. "Where!" When someone is specific, this is a big help to me and of course, I will make corrections (Thank you quisinart4!).
Oliver/Felicity or Bruce/Felicity… well that would be telling, your opinions seem to be divided about 50/50. I will say that there's a reason both are listed under pairings in Ch1. In all honesty though, I have about 20,000 words right now and it could go either way. Although my intent was for an Olicity ending, once I start a story, I try not to impose my will on the characters. They write themselves, I just dictate it for them and if I try to keep things how I want them, it stilts the story and I end up blocked. I used to feel insane saying that but now I'm meeting other professional authors who tell me the same thing… well, I still feel crazy, I'm just more willing to own up to it! I can say that things between Oliver and Felicity will get worse before they get better.
Yes, Bruce is desperate to employ her. Anyone familiar with him knows how much he needs his technology and he wants the best. He's kicking himself that he wasn't around to hire her straight from college.
Yes, the title is a nod to Star Wars, not because SW has any relevance to this story, but it's very fitting for a story with supervillain organisation called HIVE.
Yes, the story will be finished. I don't start to publish until I know that there's enough life in the story to finish it.
As seven o'clock approached, Felicity wondered what she should do, wait up here for Bruce, or go down and wait in the lobby? He probably wouldn't want the inconvenience of coming inside for her. She grabbed her clutch and shawl, then headed out but before she could open her apartment door, someone knocked, which made her jump slightly. She took a calming breath, then opened it.
"You're early," she said without thinking.
"I hope I haven't inconvenienced you?"
"No, not at all. I was going to wait for you in the lobby."
"That doesn't sound very romantic." He smiled and took the shawl from her, opening it and holding it up for her.
She turned her back and he placed it around her, his hands coming to rest on her shoulders.
"You look lovely," he told her, his breath fanning her ear, letting her know exactly how close he was.
"Thank you." If her voice quavered a little, it was his fault, she reasoned. The man had to know the effect he had on women.
He stepped back and she turned to face him. His gaze wandered up her figure and from the expression he wore, he didn't find anything wanting. He held his elbow out.
"Shall we go?"
Felicity nodded, clutching his elbow and pulling the door closed behind her.
She was wearing a red dress with a beaded, strapless bodice (which tugged her waist in and pushed her breasts out) with a long, full skirt. She had swept her curls up onto the crown of her head, leaving a few loose to frame her face, and swapped her glasses for contacts. She may not be worth a million dollars, but she certainly thought that she looked like a million dollars.
"Relax," Bruce said as they entered the lift.
"Sorry." She smiled up at him.
"It's just a ball."
"I know, that isn't what has me nervous."
"You're worried about Oliver?"
"More like his Mom, actually, she doesn't like me."
Bruce tilted his head to the side as he considered that. "Why ever not?"
"Because I told Oliver something she didn't want me to… and I might have told her to her face, that I didn't trust her."
"Do the Queens have a lot of secrets?"
She realised that she was on the verge of giving too much away.
"Queens, as in plural, I don't think so but Mrs Queen… I get the feeling that the secrets she knows would put the NSA to shame."
Bruce laughed. "Yes, her trial made headlines around the globe, so I can't say I'm surprised that you feel that way. I wouldn't trust her either."
The elevator doors opened and they made quite a striking couple as they walked across the lobby.
"Why are you going to a gala for her if you don't trust her?" Felicity asked.
"My opinion of her doesn't matter one way or the other, I can't vote for Starling City's Mayor, but I do know Mr Reynolds, who is hosting the Gala, and my company can't afford to upset such a large and respected financial institution as his."
Felicity didn't question it, businessmen seemed to spend a lot of time with people they didn't particularly care for, just because they couldn't risk offending them.
"Don't worry, its bad form to talk too much business at these things," Bruce assured her. He waved the chauffeur away and opened the car door for her.
"Thank you." She slipped into the car and slid across the seat, so he could sit beside her.
"You look as nervous as a cat at a dog show."
Felicity smiled at the image of that. "I'm sorry, it's just been ages since I went on a date."
"A formal date, yeah." Hunting jewel thieves and counting cards didn't count. She supposed dancing with Barry might be considered a date, except in the end, she hadn't been the one to invite him, Oliver had.
"Tell me about your business," she said.
"Really, you want me to talk shop?"
"I might be a computer geek, but I'm interested in a lot of different things. Besides, if I can wheedle some corporate secrets out of you, I might get a pay raise."
He laughed and reached out to take her hand. "Well, mostly it's your standard, run of the mill conglomerate. We have…"
As he spoke, his thumb moved softly over the back of her hand, soothing her somewhat frayed nerves.
There wasn't really any one reason for her to feel as nervous as she did, but there were a lot of things about tonight that she couldn't predict. Would Moira cause a scene and throw her out? Would Oliver be okay with this, or be upset (and honestly, she didn't know which was worse)? Would she babble in front of Bruce's friends and show him up? Would Bruce invite her back to his suite? He did have a reputation as a playboy, after all. And if he did, how would she answer?
You knew you were in a bad way when you couldn't even foresee your own behaviour.
There was just so much that she didn't know and couldn't predict, and that was what made her feel so anxious.
Oliver still felt odd in his new apartment, as if he were simply staying with a friend, rather than living on his own. It hadn't occurred to him to get his own place before this week, not even to help hide his vigilante activities.
He knew it wouldn't take long to feel at home, Felicity had chosen well, he just hadn't had the time to make himself at home yet. Pretty much, he only came home to sleep and although his housekeeper kept his refrigerator stocked, he'd made himself a grand total of two sandwiches.
He really wasn't looking forward to the ball this evening, held by one of the major shareholders in Starling National Bank, but he had to put in an appearance because Thea was going to be there.
A part of him felt that he should tell his sister the truth about her father, that she more than anyone deserved to know the truth, but how could he? Not only had she adored their father, Robert, her biological father, Merlyn, had been the one responsible for his death. Now she seemed to have grown closer to their mother but if she ever learned the truth, he was certain that she would never speak to Moira again. As much as he hated the lies, he couldn't be the one to take their mother away from her.
He gave his reflection a final perusal in the mirror, then turned to leave.
Felicity and Bruce walked into the ballroom of The Caledonian Hotel to, thankfully, little fanfare. A waiter was ready with a tray of champagne glasses and beside him, another waiter had a tray of orange juice.
Felicity opted for the champagne, as did Bruce, but Felicity finished her glass in three long sips as they moved deeper into the ballroom.
"Feel better?" Bruce asked, clearly amused.
"Much." She grinned.
"I didn't know I'd invited a lush." His tone was teasing, which made Felicity smile. "Here." He handed her his glass, which had only dropped a sip in level.
She looked at him quizzically.
"Everyone knows it takes two glasses of champagne to relax," he explained.
"Are you trying to get me drunk, Mr Wayne?"
"Damn it, you've seen through my cunning plan."
She looked into the contents of his glass then looked up at him.
"Two?" she questioned.
"Two," he confirmed.
"Are you sure that's not two for men?"
"I've estimated your weight, judging by your height and size, knocking off three inches for your heels, of course and allowing for the fact you probably haven't eaten for a few hours. Trust me, two will give you a pleasant buzz without intoxicating you. Switch to orange juice or water for the next half an hour though, before drinking again."
Felicity looked impressed.
"What?" he asked. "You aren't going to ask what I estimated your weight to be, are you?"
"No," she assured him, laughing. "I'm just glad to see that you're more than just a pretty face."
He returned her smile and pointed to her glass, which she dutifully finished quickly.
"I'll get us some fresh drinks from the bar," he assured her, before disappearing into the crowd.
There were around two hundred guests present, and an orchestra with a singer playing on the stage, although no one was dancing yet. Felicity looked around but when Mrs Queen caught her eye a moment later, she wished that she had hidden, or at least stayed on the side-lines.
She plastered a smile on her face as Moira said goodbye to the people she was speaking to and made her way over to Felicity.
"Good evening, Mrs Queen," she said as sweetly as she could.
"I wasn't aware that my son was working at this event."
Felicity bristled at the cattiness in her tone, as if Felicity wasn't worthy of an invitation. It gave her pleasure to answer. "He's not, I didn't come with Oliver."
Before Felicity could explain Bruce approached from behind Mrs Queen, with two highball glasses filled with ice and something effervescent.
"Felicity." He held one glass out for her. "Your vodka and lemonade."
"Thank you, Bruce." She took a small sip through the straw and discovered that it was in fact carbonated water. She wondered if his was non-alcoholic too. Maybe he was an alcoholic and that was why he didn't drink his champagne.
"Bruce, this is Mrs Queen, Oliver's mother." She looked to Moira. "But then, I'm sure you've met Bruce Wayne before."
"Actually, I haven't had the pleasure." Moira held her hand out and Bruce shook it.
"The pleasure is all mine," Bruce assured her.
"I do hope you aren't trying to steal Queen Consolidated company secrets?" It was said in a teasing tone but the implication was clear, no one would invite Felicity out unless it was for the purpose of corporate espionage.
"Actually, I've been trying to steal Oliver's EA for a while now, her reputation precedes her, but she keeps turning me down."
"Well, it's always nice to know you have options, in case the worst should happen," Moira said pointedly to Felicity.
Bruce pretended not to have understood the implication that she might be fired. "I thought QC was doing well with Oliver at the helm?"
"Oh, it is." Moira smiled at him. "But you never know what may happen in the future."
"Of course, maniacs with earthquake machines don't usually announce their plans on the evening news."
Moira's smile remained in place but her eyes hardened. She might be able to intimidate Felicity under normal circumstances but with Bruce as her champion, she knew this was a lost cause.
"Enjoy your evening," she said pleasantly enough, and turned away.
"Wow," Bruce said.
"What?" Felicity looked up at him.
"I thought you were exaggerating or might have imagined it, but she really doesn't like you, does she?"
"People with dirty laundry usually don't like others going through it."
"Very true," he agreed.
Felicity raised her drink. "Are you going virgin too?" she asked.
"I am," he admitted. "I have nothing against drinking but I prefer to keep a clear head most of the time."
"Believe it or not, me too, usually. Although red wine is my vice of choice."
"You have good taste," Bruce assured her. "Now, I'm sure we can find someone pleasant at this party, so let's mingle."
With one confrontation was out of the way and the alcohol bolstering her confidence, Felicity felt better now, and it didn't hurt that she could feel his hand on the small of her back as he guided her through the crowd.
Oliver hadn't bothered with a date, it seemed like more trouble that it was worth, especially considering that he wouldn't be staying for long.
When he was finished, he intended to stop by Detective Lance's house and see how Laurel was getting on. He'd have to ask about Sara too, but he already knew how she was doing (fine, although her family was smothering her a little, and the transition to a domestic lifestyle was proving harder than she had expected).
Sara was itching to get out and help him fight crime, but her parents didn't seem inclined to let her out of their sight for more than an hour or two at a time.
Laurel had been checked into rehab but although she had only tried to escape once, she wasn't ready to face her problems and sat sullenly through all the therapy sessions. Quentin seemed to understand her hostility and felt that they should stay optimistic, but Sara and Dinah were finding it harder to remain upbeat.
Oliver felt that it was too soon for either optimism or cynicism, she hadn't even been in rehab for a full week yet.
He was interrupted from his thoughts as his mother spotted his entrance and made a beeline for him.
"Oliver, Darling." Her words were warm but her tone was cool, as were his actions when he kissed the air beside her cheek.
"Mother, how are things going?"
"Very well, I'm meeting a lot of powerful people, almost all of whom have offered their support either to me, or to my campaign to help the Glades."
"That's good." He didn't see why they couldn't help Sebastian, but he knew that wealthy people didn't like a poor boy made good. They didn't trust the poor, not even those who had worked their way out of poverty. He didn't say such things though; now was neither the time nor the place.
Moira took his arm and led him deeper into the ballroom.
"Your secretary is here."
"She is? Is she looking for me?" He began to look around for her blonde ponytail.
"No, it seems she has landed herself a billionaire of her very own."
Oliver looked at his mother in confusion.
"She's Bruce Wayne's date," Moira explained.
"His date?" 'When did that happen?'
"Yes. It seems corporate espionage isn't what it once was, and is now conducted over vodka and dancing."
Oliver followed his mother's gaze to the dance floor, where Felicity was swaying with Bruce, laughing at something he had said.
He was surprised when he heard the glass he was holding shatter and looked down to see his hand covered in blood.
His mother handed him a serviette and dragged him to the bar, where he placed the remains of the glass on the bar and accepted the cloth napkin the bartender handed him, and used it to staunch the bleeding. Thankfully, the cut wasn't bad, his callouses probably having saved him from serious injury.
When he turned to his mother, she seemed rather smug.
"You can't trust that girl, Oliver, who knows what secrets she's telling him."
The bleeding had slowed, so Oliver wrapped his handkerchief around his hand as it was more discrete than the napkin, and glared at his mother.
"Unlike you, I trust her implicitly. You need to be more careful who you insult."
"Oliver, she's clearly in love with you, any fool can see that, and she's doing this to make you jealous. When it doesn't work, what do you think she might do next?"
"Nothing," Oliver answered. "Unlike you, she doesn't scheme in order to get other people to dance to her tune. Now, if you'll excuse me."
Oliver made his way around the edge of the dance floor, waiting for the song to end and Felicity to walk off the floor. He didn't know why this upset him, she was a free agent and he hadn't been lying, he did trust her. So why was her laughing with Bruce Wayne such a big deal?
'Because Bruce is a real threat.'
And there it was. Barry, for all his brains, was basically just a kid. Bruce however, was a billionaire, philanthropist and an inventor. He didn't wear green and beat the crap out of bad guys, but he was making a difference in the world, leaving it a better place thanks to his charity work. He was just the type of man who could replace him in Felicity's heart.
He knew that he shouldn't care too much about Felicity, he knew that love could be a source of evil as well as good, and he knew that he couldn't stand to lose anyone else he cared about. That hadn't stopped his rather ill thought out tryst with Sara but Sara was different; Sara was like him, already broken beyond repair. No matter what happened with her, he could never hurt her to the same degree that he could hurt Felicity.
That didn't mean that dating Sara was a wise move, it wasn't, for a hundred and one different reasons.
He imagined having slept with Felicity, then having to tell her it had been a mistake.
She would accept it. She might fight the point but she would accept it eventually. She might not even blame him, she had proven to have a far greater capacity for forgiveness that he possessed. The hurt in her eyes though, that would haunt him, and he already had too many ghosts.
As he recognised the final few bars of the song, he plastered a smile on his face, wondering, 'How do you greet the man who is dancing with the woman you love?'
Before he could ponder his use of the word 'love', he realised that Felicity hadnoticed him first and he saw her expression fall for a moment, before she smiled and headed straight for him.
"Oliver." Her expression was a mixture of remorse and defiance. "Have you met Bruce?"
"I have." He offered his uninjured right hand but as they shook, he saw Bruce take note of his injured hand but for whatever reason, he chose not to comment. "How are you?"
"Good, Mr Queen, thank you."
"What brings you to Starling City?"
"I came to steal your Executive Assistant. I've been trying for months without success, so I thought a personal visit was in order."
Oliver knew that Bruce was watching him, to gauge his reaction, he just didn't understand why. Felicity quickly looked away, a blush turning her cheeks red.
"I can see why you might want to, she's amazing but you should know, I'll fight you for her."
Felicity looked at him, surprised by his answer. Bruce's expression gave nothing away.
"Well, if a date is the best I can hope for, it will be more than enough." His phone buzzed and Bruce took it out of his pocket, then looked to Felicity. "I'm sorry, this is my butler, and he wouldn't call unless it was important. Do you mind?"
"Not as all," she smiled. Right now, she didn't care which man left, just so long as one of them did, so that she could cease to feel like a bone they were fighting over.
They both watched as Bruce headed out of the main doors in the ballroom.
"Do you want to get some air?" Oliver asked, nodding to the doors which lined one side of the room, that led to the balcony.
Felicity nodded and they made their way out there.
The ballroom was on the first floor, so there wasn't an expansive view, but the street below them looked lovely, bathed in lamp light, and this was a historic section of the city, so the buildings around there were all old and classical.
There was a slight chill in the air but after the dance, Felicity welcomed it.
"So, you and Bruce; how'd that happen?"
Felicity shrugged as she stood against the railings. "He asked, I didn't see the harm. Do you have any idea how long it's been since I went on a real date? I just wanted to get dressed up and for once, not get shot at or kidnapped or something."
Oliver came to stand beside her, perhaps standing a little closer than was strictly proper.
"Are you okay?" he asked.
She turned to him, puzzled by the question. "I'm fine, why?"
"You've been different lately, quieter, more focused."
"Less rambling," she turned away again.
"Less you," he said.
She was afraid to turn to look at him, wary that he'd have that look in his eyes, the look that showed how much he cared, the look that gave her hope.
"From my perspective, less rambling is a good thing."
"Not from mine."
She didn't reply.
"Is this because of something my Mom said to you? Because of what you told me? Do you think I'm upset with you?"
"No." She did turn to him then, and she was right, he did have 'that' look. She found it almost impossible to lie to him when he looked like this, and she was on the verge of admitting that she knew about him and Sara, when fate threw her a lifeline.
"I thought I saw you coming out here." Thea greeted Oliver with a hug and a kiss, then turned to Felicity and smiled. "And I thought I saw you dancing with Bruce Wayne?"
"I was," Felicity blushed to admit. "I'm his… date."
Thea's eyebrows rose but with pride rather than shock. "Well look at you, landing one of America's most eligible bachelors. You'll have to tell me your secret."
"There's no secret, and I haven't landed anything, it's one date."
"Um hum." Thea nodded but clearly wasn't buying it. "And how have you been, Big Brother, what's it like being an independent man about town."
Oliver smiled. "Weird."
"We miss you at home."
"You're never at home to miss me," he countered. "Speaking of, where is Roy?" He was taking care of the city with Diggle, but Thea didn't know that.
"He's just having a night with his friends." Thea explained, which was the excuse Roy had given her.
"You sound worried?" Oliver noted.
"A little," Thea said with a shrug. "His friends aren't the best characters, but I trust him. Besides, he feels uncomfortable enough at our house, he'd hate it here."
"Are you still worried about him?" Oliver asked.
"I think that's my cue to get a new drink," Felicity said, taking a step towards the door.
Oliver spoke up to stop her. "You don't have to-"
His words cut off when the power in the building went out. Oliver stepped towards the doors but Felicity's words stopped him.
"It's just us, all the surrounding buildings have power," Felicity said, her analytical mode taking over in a crisis. She had already retrieved her phone from her purse.
"Call-" Oliver looked to Thea then back to Felicity. "Call the police." he said, although the look he gave her said 'call Diggle'.
"Do you have your phone?" Felicity asked. He didn't have his Bluetooth ear piece but he did have the phone.
"Call me when you know anything." He turned to his sister. "Come on." He grabbed Thea and dragged her after him, to the other end of the balcony.
"Ollie! What are you doing, let me go!"
"Stay here, I'm going to find mom and tell her to come here and stay with you. Don't move, got it?"
"Yeah." She nodded and Oliver dashed inside. A lot of the guests seemed to be making their way out to the balcony. Thankfully, no one seemed to be panicking and most guests had thought to use the light on their phone screens, which was helping. He quickly found his mother, thanking whoever it was for making her blonde and easier to spot in very low light. He quickly told her where Thea was and dashed further into the building.
His phone rang and he reached the door to the ballroom.
"I've patched Dig in too," she said, keeping her voice low. He could also hear a lot of background chatter, and guessed that the balcony was now getting too crowded for her to speak freely.
"What's going on?" Oliver asked.
"Not sure," Diggle said. "There's a lot coming over the police computers but little of it is helpful. I can tell you that there is already a police presence at the hotel, guarding one of the penthouse suits."
Oliver headed for the stairwell and began to climb. "Why?"
"Not sure and without Felicity here, I can't even find out who's paying for that hotel room."
"With my tablet, I might be able to help but I didn't bring it… Gimme a minute."
Oliver continued climbing until he reached the eighth floor. As he ascended, he heard what sounded like shots from above, then a louder bang, followed by cries and screams, both from above and below.
"Thank god this is an old hotel and not a skyscraper."
"Okay, I'm on the computer, I slipped into one of the offices," Felicity explained. "It's a laptop so it has battery power and is hooked into an Ethernet cable, which still seems to be working.
If he didn't need to know who the police were guarding, he would have cursed her for not staying put; people were stampeding, she could have been crushed.
"Just… give… me… I'm in, okay, the penthouse suits are rented to Bruce Wayne, Alan Schafer and… the FBI! The fourth one is listed as vacant."
"That's got to be the room." Oliver said, pausing by the door to the penthouse floor.
"There's no name here, so I can't tell you who's staying in there."
Oliver had a feeling that he would be finding out very soon. He couldn't hear anything dangerous through the door and risked opening it.
The hallway was a mess, with broken furniture, bullet holes in the walls and wood panelling and one broken down door. The air was also filled with dust and an acrid smell; so there had been an explosion up here, but probably not a big one. Perhaps a hand grenade size.
Aware that he was dressed as Oliver Queen, not the Arrow, he made his way into the hallway and along to the broken door. Keeping his body shielded, he looked around the door frame and into the room, unwilling to enter until he knew the situation he might be walking into.
"Hello, does anyone need help?"
"The police are on the scene, ambulances too," Felicity told him over the phone line.
"Hello!" he called again. The air was filled with smoke and dust in here, so he couldn't make much out. "Can anyone hear me?"
He heard something that sounded like a voice and made his way over to it. He found himself kneeling over a police officer. He was stunned but Oliver couldn't see any obvious injuries.
"It was the bat."
"A bat? Someone hit you wilt a baseball bat?"
The officer coughed. "No, the vigilante from Gotham, guy-" he began coughing again.
"The police and emergency services are here, they'll be with you any moment," Oliver tried to reassure him.
"My partner went into the bedroom, with the perp."
"Who was the perp? Oliver asked.
"Need to know. Apparently-" he coughed. "We didn't need to know."
"I'll check on your partner."
Oliver ran into the bedroom and saw total devastation. The windows along one wall were completely gone, the walls and furniture blackened with soot and two bodies were lying on the floor, by the bed. Oliver checked on them, they were both breathing but unconscious.
He ran to the window and saw a zip line running to another building, which must have been how the Bat escaped.
Oliver heard voices calling and went back to one of the fallen men.
"In here!" he called. "We need help!"
Police came in, followed by paramedics.
"What happened?" an officer asked as he pulled Oliver back so the paramedics could work.
"I found them like this."
"Did you see what happened?"
"What were you doing up here?"
How did he explain that?
"I was at the party downstairs."
"And how did you get up here?"
His phone vibrated and he could see that Felicity had ended their call but had texted him. The message on screen said, 'Did you find Bruce?! What's going on?'
'God bless Felicity,' he thought.
He showed the officer the message. "My friend came with Bruce Wayne. He ducked out earlier to take a call and she was worried when she couldn't find him. I said I'd check on him but I had no idea I'd find this up here."
It sounded perfectly plausible.
"Okay, Sir, we're going to need to take a statement from you," He led Oliver out into the corridor, away from the bodies and the investigation. "Wait here until one of the detectives can speak with you."
"Will you check the other penthouses? I can't remember which room she said he was in, but it's one of the penthouse suites." He looked around him. "I hope it wasn't this one."
"We'll check them," the officer assured him.
Oliver took a deep breath and prepared to wait. This right here, was why he worked outside the law, because there was too goddamn much waiting around with the police.
As soon as power was restored, Felicity slipped out of the office and headed back to the ballroom. Police were everywhere but so were party guests, so she didn't think she stood out. She found Thea and Moira out on the balcony and stayed with them until Roy and Diggle arrived.
Roy made it to them first, calling Thea's name and hugging her tightly once he realised she was safe. Now that the commotion seemed to be over, Felicity stepped inside to speak to Diggle.
"What's happening?" he asked.
"Not much. The police found Oliver upstairs so he's giving a statement. Other than that, you probably know more than I do."
Diggle nodded and directed her to the side of the ballroom.
"Word is, the Gotham City Vigilante did this."
"He killed or kidnapped someone in federal custody?" Felicity had heard enough to know that only three people had been found in the hotel room. There had been two cops and there were likely to be two federal agents there too, since all branches of law enforcement seemed to work with a partner, which meant that whoever they were guarding, and possibly an agent or one of the cops was missing as well.
"Look like it."
"Could Helena Bertinelli have a new partner, this Bat? She's tried to kill her father while he was in federal custody before."
"Could be, but it's too soon to be jumping to conclusions," Diggle cautioned.
"Felicity! There you are, thank God."
She turned to see Bruce striding towards her.
"I've been looking everywhere for you, I was worried you'd been hurt in the… whatever that was."
"I'm fine," she smiled at him, but it turned to a frown as she noticed a little bit of blood by his hairline. "You're hurt." She reached out to him but he pulled back before she could touch his head.
"I was still on my call when the lights went out, I tried to make my way back here and someone opened the door just as I got to it." He rubbed his head.
"You should let the paramedics check you out."
She stepped away to find one but Bruce took a hold of her arm. "I'm fine, honestly. My butler, Alfred, is up in my suite, he'll take good care of me."
"I thought he was the one who called you?"
"He did, I had an urgent call and he was passing on the message. And I should probably see about returning it soon. Come on, I'll call a car to drive you home."
"I'll see she gets home," Diggle assured him.
Bruce looked a little surprised to realise he was with Felicity, and gave him along, evaluating look.
"He's Oliver's body guard," Felicity explained.
"Where is Oliver?"
"I asked him to find you. Speaking of, I doubt they'll let you back into your suite for a while, this happened up there, apparently."
"Then I really should check on Alfred. You'll make sure she's okay?" Bruce asked Diggle.
Bruce turned back to Felicity. "I'm sorry the night ended this way. Perhaps we can reschedule."
"Sure," she said, not really believing that they would. He lived in another city and considering that he had given the impression that he wouldn't be here very long, she was sure that he was just being polite.
They remained in the ballroom, although they found a couple of chairs to sit on while they waited for Oliver.
He was finally let go about an hour later.
"Any clues?" Felicity asked him.
"It was Gotham City's vigilante."
"So it's true, the Bat is here?"
"Looks like it."
"Starling City is becoming a mecca for vigilantes," Diggle noted.
Oliver didn't look happy about that. "There's nothing more we can do here tonight, we should go."
They headed out together. Roy had already taken Thea and Moira home.
Oliver slowed slightly as they walked to the car and put his hand on Felicity's arm to still her for a moment.
"I'm sorry you got dressed up, only for it to end in disaster again."
She had forgotten that she had even said that, and was touched that he had remembered.
She would probably lament how the night had ended in the not too distant future but for now, she was with her two favourite men and they were all alive and well. That was enough to make this a happy ending in her book.
"And Mr Aitkinson?" Alfred asked as he hung Brice Wayne's dinner jacket up.
"Is locked in the boiler-room of the hotel. Handcuffed to a fitting. The FBI agent will wake up when the drugs wear off and summon help."
"Was it really necessary to kidnap a federal agent?"
Bruce sat in the bed and removed his shoes and socks.
"He wasn't going to talk unless he believed his life was in danger, so I had to take the agent so I could make it look like I'd killed him."
"And what did Mr Aitkinson tell you?"
"Unfortunately, very little. He may be well connected in the mafia but he didn't know much about HIVE."
"Did he give you anything useful?"
"Maybe, I'm not sure yet."
Alfred continued to tidy up after his charge, knowing that he would elaborate when he was ready.
"He said Merlyn was involved with them."
"That's the only Merlyn I know."
"Not to sound pessimistic, Master Wayne, but he's dead."
"True, and his company has been cut up and sold off. His partner however, Moira Queen, is alive and her company is very much intact. Aitkinson also said that he had once collected a consignment from HIVE from a Queen Consolidated warehouse in Starling."
"So you have a new lead to follow then."
"It's not much," Bruce admitted.
"Then, was your companion at least pleasurable company?" Alfred asked.
"Why do you ask?"
"It would be nice if something good came out of this evening, Sir."
Bruce smiled. "She was lovely, Alfred. I might even call her adorable, but she's also in love with another man."
"That is a shame. So I take it you won't be seeing her again?"
"Actually, I plan on seeing her tomorrow."
"But you just said-"
"I know, but she man she loves is either too foolish to realise it, or too superficial to care, I'm not quite sure which but until he wakes up and makes a move, she is my best link to Queen Consolidated."
Alfred shook his head in consternation. "This is no way to treat a young lady, Master Wayne."
"So you keep telling me, Alfred."
"That's because I'm still hopeful that one day, it might sink in, Sir."
After a fruitless few hours at the Arrow cave, they were unable to discover anything meaningful about the Bat or the victim, and had finally called it a night in the early hours of the morning, so when Bruce called at 9am, Felicity was still in bed. She grabbed her phone from the night stand and brought it to her ear without thinking.
"I'm up, I'm on my way."
"You're not Oliver," she said, trying to remember why that voice sounded familiar.
"No, it's Bruce Wayne. You were expecting your boss?"
"No one else usually wakes me up at odd hours." She glanced at her clock, which read 9.02 AM. "And it's not even odd hours. Sorry."
"Not at all, I'm sorry I woke you. Are you all right?"
Her newly awoken brain was beginning to catch up to events. Of course he would think 9AM was late because as far as he knew, she had left the hotel before 10pm, which left plenty of time to be well rested. In an attempt to wake up, she swung her legs around so she was sitting on the edge of the bed.
"I had trouble sleeping last night, that's all. Probably the adrenalin or something. How are you this morning?"
"I'm fine, thank you."
"And your head?"
"Just a scratch, I assure you."
"The reason I'm calling is to ask you to lunch."
"I thought you were going back to Gotham?"
"Soon, I still have a couple of contacts I'd like to catch up with before I leave."
"Then shouldn't you be calling them?" she teased.
"They aren't as pretty as you."
Okay, so it was a line, and a cheesy line at that, but at least someone was flirting with her.
"Charmer. I do have to work today-"
"But it's Sunday."
"I know. No rest for the wicked, I guess, but I'm sure I can squeeze you in." Oliver might not like it but there was something about last night, something that was nagging at the back of her mind, only she couldn't for the life of her, figure out what it was.
Her instincts told her to meet Bruce however, and she had learned to trust her instincts. Perhaps he would jog a memory or a recollection about last night.
"What time shall I pick you up?" Bruce asked.
"How about I meet you somewhere,"
"All right. Can you recommend somewhere?"
"What are you after, fine dining or fast food?"
"How about something in the middle, nice food but no pretention."
"Do you like burgers?"
"Big Belly Burger then, I'll meet you there at 1."
She did like the food there but since Carly and Diggle had split up, she didn't get to go very often. Plus it was right on the edge of the glades, not far from Verdant.
"It's a date."
As she hung up, Felicity tried to ignore the fluttering that the word 'date' caused in her stomach. Two dates did not a relationship make, especially when the first one was interrupted.
She hadn't even finished brushing her teeth when Detective Lance called. She explained that she was at home but would try to contact the Arrow for him, then she called Oliver.